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John Mathews, "Greening of Capitalism: China's Green Development Model as the Driver"

When Feb 17, 2015
from 12:10 PM to 01:30 PM
Where SS&H 1246
Contact Name
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Please join the Center for Science and Innovation Studies (CSIS), Science and Technology Studies (STS), and Geography Graduate Group (GGG), for a lunchtime talk by John Mathews.

Lunch provided. Please RSVP if you plan to attend.

Abstract: Western industrialism has achieved miracles, promoting unprecedented levels of prosperity and raising hundreds of millions out of poverty. Industrial capitalism is now diffusing east, where Japan was the first, then the four Tigers (Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong) and now China are all incorporating themselves into the global industrial world. India, Brazil and many others are expecting to follow the same course. But as China, India, and other industrializing giants grow, they are confronted with an inconvenient truth: They cannot rely on the conventions of capitalism (fossil-fueled energy systems; resource throughput rather than circularity; generic finance) as we know them today, for reasons to do with spoliation of their own environment and energy and resource security as much as concerns over global warming.

By necessity, a new approach to environmentally conscious development is already emerging in the East, with China leading the way. As opposed to western zero-growth advocates and free-market environmentalists, it can be argued that a more sustainable capitalism is being developed – as counterpart to the all-too obvious black developmental model based on coal. In Hu Angang’s words, this alternative is the “inevitable choice for China” – and by extension, one might say for other developing countries as well.

State-mandated changes in energy use (as distinguished from carbon taxes), a circular flow of resources (as distinguished from emissions standards), and the introduction of new financial instruments that support green growth are cornerstones of China’s framework. It seems probable that these initiatives will be emulated around the world—in India and Brazil as well as in other East Asian countries. In light of this emerging shift, core debates are emerging over the implications of the greening of capitalism for issues of national security, international relations, and economic policy.

Falling prices for both oil and coal over recent months have led many to query whether policies supporting renewable energies will be sustained, or – as in the 1980s when oil prices were also plunging – lead to abandonment of renewables projects. This is unlikely to happen, because this time China is the major global investor. And China’s reasons for building up its renewable energy industries are strategic in nature, based on the need to enhance energy security and clear polluted skies – strategic goals which are not negated by falling oil or coal prices.

John Mathews is professor of strategy at Macquarie Graduate School of Management, Macquarie University, Sydney. He has taught at MGSM for the past 15 years, and was from 2009 to 2012 concurrently the Eni Chair of Competitive Dynamics and Global Strategy at LUISS Gardi Carli University in Rome. He has specialized in the catch-up strategies of firms and countries in East Asia, publishing widely in this field. He was a Rockefeller Foundation visiting fellow at the Bellagio Study Centre in 2004.

For the past several years Professor Mathews has focused on the greening of business systems. He has published several books based on this research, including Tiger Technology: The Creation of a Semiconductor Industry in East Asia (Cambridge UP 2000; co-authored with Cho, Dong-Sung); Dragon Multinational: A New Model of Global Growth (Oxford UP, 2002); and Strategizing, Disequilibrium and Profit (Stanford University Press 2006) which discusses the theoretical foundations of catch-up strategies. In 2014 his new book, Greening of Capitalism: How Asia is Driving the Next Great Transformation, was published by Stanford University Press. His article “Manufacture renewables to build energy security” was published in Nature in September 2014.


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